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[I just realized that I made a fundamental mistake charting out the Goldenberg family tree. The fact that David Goldenberg was born only 5 years after Favel Goldenberg should have alerted me to the fact that they were brothers, not father and son. I don't feel like rewriting everything below, so just take that into account, ignoring the cascade of errors that flow from that error.

Note to self: try to get some sleep every few days.


Some more digging, and a thorough reading of my grand-cousin's autobiography, has allowed me to piece together a chronology of the Goldenberg branch of my family tree which includes a few more entertaining nuggets.

In a nutshell (he said, hoping to produce a less long-winded post than usual, a goal which this parenthetical statement does little to advance):

In the beginning (well, as far back as we know) there were Favel and Eva (nee ???) Goldenberg, a typical (for all we know) mid-19th century Romanian couple. Except that they weren't actually Goldenbergs. Favel's surname was Seltzer.

This fact got changed retroactively in the archives because one of his sons, Dovid Seltzer (1865 - 1935) changed his name when he arrived in the US around 1880.

It is said that, as the ship that took him across the Atlantic passed the Statue of Liberty on its approach to Ellis Island, Dovid asked a fellow passenger, a returning US citizen, "What is a good name to have in America?" The passenger replied "Sir, in America, the best name is Goldberg."

(Whether this was accurate is unclear; the National Archive only has Best Name data going back to the 1910 Census.)

And while it is not said, we can assume that at that revelatory moment, the fog lifted and, far off on the deck of next ship, Barbra Streisand began singing.

So, Dovid Seltzer became David Goldenberg (adding an extra syllable for, I'm guessing, subtlety).

David Goldenberg settled in Philadelphia, and, being a late 19th Century Jewish immigrant, he went into the candy business, as the law required (had he been wealthier, he would have had the option of becoming a diamond merchant).

He started out pushing a cart, later opened a candy store, and eventually, on the strength of one particularly successful confection, ran a factory, fulfilling the American Dream(TM) as the law required.

Let me emphasize here: I am a descendant of a man who owned a chocolate factory*. I find this quite marvelous for no practical reason.

The candy in question, you've probably encountered if you're from the Northeast. Goldenberg's Peanut Chews were a staple of my pre-diabetic diet. They rocked. Seriously, we're talking about Desert-Island-List food, here.

I say "rocked," past tense, because Just Born, which bought out their longtime subsidiary, the Goldenberg Candy Company, in 2003, still produces them (under the misleading moniker "Chew-Ets Original Peanut Chews,") but with an altered recipe which doesn't contain real chocolate.

This pisses me off. It's not that I have any emotional stake in preserving the family recipe I didn't even know was in the family until a couple days ago; it's just that the original version was freaking awesome, and had been for 100 years. You don't fuck with that just because you can. That's like buying an Upper East Side brownstone and redoing the facade in stucco.

In their defense, it should be noted that Just Born have also produced Marshmallow Peeps for over 50 years, with no decline in quality.

Anyway, David "The Candy King" Goldenberg begat (among others) Rose Goldenberg, who married Alexander Greenbaum and eventually begat Everett Greenbaum, who, as partially documented here before:

* learned to fly an airplane at age 9

* attended MIT

* served as a flight instructor for the Navy in WWII

* studied at the Sorbonne (with little success - he didn't speak French)

* hosted an innovative radio show in Buffalo

* went to NYC to act in radio and early TV

* went to Hollywood to write for, among others, "Mr. Peepers," (entire first season) "The Andy
Griffith Show," (27 episodes), "Sanford and Son," (a handful of episodes) and, most prominently, "M*A*S*H" (23 episodes)

* wrote the screenplays to some very silly Don Knotts vehicles

* appeared as an actor in, among others, "Matlock," "Ellen," "Seinfeld," and "3rd Rock from the Sun"

* managed to squeeze in enough time to become a respected kinetic sculptor

* died 10 tears before I found out I was related to him, the bastard.

Meanwhile, the Candy King's sister, Feva, married Hyman Rabinowitz (which is about as Jewish a name as you can possibly have, less than 1 degree above absolute Jew), begetting 9 children, one of whom was my grandmother Florence.

Interestingly, while Ev Greenbaum was born in 1919, a year before my grandmother, he was actually one generation further along; Florence was a grandchild of Favel and Eva, Everett was a great-grandchild. This is a trick of the overlapping, long childbearing periods (squeeze out 15 kids in 19 years, hope around a dozen survive) that were the style at the time. The Candy King was born in 1865; his sister Feva in 1882. My grandmother was one of her later children, born in 1920; Ev's mother Rose was born in 1892...etc.

So much for keeping it brief. Sheesh.

Pwned by my own blog.


*okay, technically, I'm the descendant of the sister of a man who owned a chocolate factory. That's still a fairly high concentration of Wonkanine in my DNA. So, Thhhthththpptt!


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 21st, 2008 01:59 am (UTC)
Droool.... Goldenberg's Peanut Chews.... they're a fav of mine, too.
Apr. 15th, 2009 03:13 am (UTC)
Peanut Chews Disappointing
You are very informed. The formula of today's Peanut Chews is not the same as the original Goldenberg's Peanut Chews.
May. 1st, 2009 05:49 pm (UTC)
Hi, don't know if it hepls any but my eye doctor is the grandson of David Goldenburg. Maybe it would help with the family tree. We were talking about where the original store was in Philly (Fishtown)and I was wondering do you know what street the store was on?
Mar. 13th, 2011 04:25 pm (UTC)
hello from another family member
Hi just saw this online wanted to say hi my father was Jules Schwartz Jules was the son of Florence Goldenberg Schwartz his brother was Howard Schwartz
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )